Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Body Language Analysis No. 4032: John Kelly's Reaction to Donald Trump's Press Conference Regarding the Events in Charlottesville - Nonverbal and Emotional Intelligence (VIDEO, PHOTOS)

The following is a partial transcript of President Trump's press conference yesterday, followed by a partial nonverbal analysis of John Kelly's simultaneous nonverbal reactions.

Please note: In the transcript below, the journalist who is closest to this camera/microphone is, of course, louder than the journalist further away to whom Donald Trump is answering. Thus the 'closer' journalist's questions/words are not included here (even though you'll hear her). Moreover, this transcript does not include the full presser, but only reflects the portion included in this specific video clip.

DONALD TRUMP: I would do it the same way - and you know why? Because I want to - make sure, when I make a statement, that the statement is correct. And there was no way - there was no way of making a correct statement that early. I had to see the facts, unlike a lot of reporters, unlike a lot of reporters.

[cross talk] I didn’t know David Duke was there. I wanted to see the facts. And the facts, as they started coming out, were very well-stated. In fact, everybody said, 'His statement was beautiful. If he would have made it sooner, that would have been good.' I couldn’t have made it sooner, because I didn’t know all of the facts.

Frankly, people still don’t know all of the facts. * It was very important t-, excuse me, excuse me - it was very important to me to get the facts out and correctly. Because if I would have made a fast statement — and the first statement was made without knowing much other than what we were seeing.

The second statement was made after - with knowledge, with great knowledge. There's still things — [cross talk] excuse me. There's still things that people don’t know. I wanna make a statement with knowledge. I wanted to know the facts. Okay.

JOURNALIST: Was it? - two questions: Was this terrorism? And can you tell us how you are feeling about your chief strategist Steve Bannon? 

TRUMP: Well I think the - driver of the car - is a disgrace to, himself, his family and this country. And that is - you can call it terrorism...

General Kelly's up-and-down head nod during 0:36 - 0:39, was his indicating his agreement to President Trump describing his delayed initial response to the events in Charlottesville in a self-deprecating manner - (quoting others) 'If he would have made it sooner, that would have been good.' 

A few seconds later, during 0:44 - 045, just after the President says, "Frankly, people still don’t know all of the facts", we see General Kelly's eyebrows vector downward, his head shake side-to-side, his mid-face tighten, a mild flaring of his nostrils, an increasing rate and duration of his blinking, and the corner's of his mouth pull laterally and upward with tightened lips. This cluster indicates very clearly his disagreement-disapproval of the President's statement. However, the White House Chief of Staff's facial expression also indicates he's feeling strong additional elements of disgust and regret.

Another emotion demonstrated throughout most of this segment is signaled by John Kelly crossing his arms very tightly - and crucially (throughout the first portion of this short video) his neck is also foreshortening while his shoulders are elevating. He's also looking at the floor. This is a very beta posture. More specifically, it's indicative of a highly protective mode. He's emotionally uncomfortable. This dynamic very much makes him look like a turtle going into his shell. He HAS to be there - but he doesn't WANT to be there. He doesn't want to witness the President's behavior. This nonverbal cluster indicates Kelly is in a moment of low confidence. He wants the President to speak - but to NOT say some of the things he said.

During 1:09, just after the President says, "There's still things that people don’t know," John Kelly responds with a wince. It's as if he was getting a wound sutured without local anesthesia. Donald Trump's statement caused John Kelly emotional pain because Kelly believed, very strongly, that the President shouldn't have made that statement.

Immediately after his wincing, it's highly probably General Kelly became aware that his expression was witnessed. This, in turn, gave him an adrenaline surge causing Kelly to square his shoulders and stand up straight.

Just after President Trump was asked, "... was this terrorism?...", General Kelly very briefly looks up and to his left. This act was NOT an "Eye Roll". It was a signal Kelly was recalling a specific event. We have insufficient information to know precisely what it was, however, the timing of his response to the journalist's question, is strongly suggestive that he's recalling the specifics of a conversation he had with the President regarding the death of Heather Heyer in Charlottesville.

General Kelly then immediately turns his head, leans his head-neck-torso slightly forward, partially closes his eyelids (squinting), and lowers his eyebrows. Most people will detect this cluster of behavior as an intense anticipation and listening for the President's response to the whether or not he will label the killing of Heather Heyer as an act of domestic terrorism - and/or what he will say about Steve Bannon.

Summary: It would be very valuable to see General Kelly's reaction throughout this entire press conference. However, this 86-second portion is very telling. John Kelly was feeling emotionally uncomfortable and in beta mode in response to President Trump throughout key portions of this video segment.

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See also:

Body Language Analysis No. 4031: One Gesture to Never Use When Condemning Neo-Nazis

Body Language Analysis No. 4029: Charlottesville, Heather Heyer, and Sincerity

Body Language Analysis No. 4027: Warning Signs - Police Officer Shot Multiple Times at Close Range 

Body Language Analysis No. 4025: U.S. State Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert Regarding President Trump's "Fire and Fury" Statement

Body Language Analysis No. 4020: Bruce Willis and the "Death Wish" Remake

Body Language Analysis No. 4018: Alexis Bledel and "The Handmaid's Tale"

Body Language Analysis No. 4006: Vladimir Putin and Melania Trump at the G20

Body Language Analysis No. 3983: Female Kurdish sniper fighting IS narrowly cheats death

Body Language Analysis No. 3944: Dwayne Johnson, The 2020 Presidential Election, and The Rock Dialing Up His Alpha